Italian coastguard have intercepted a vessel carrying some 200 Eritrean migrants.
The boat, 15 meters in length, was picked up at midnight CET around 75 kilometres off Capo Passero in Sicily and escorted to shore.
A pregnant woman was one of the 48 on board along with four children and a baby.
The authorities have confirmed the Africans are Eritrean nationals, but it is not yet clear from which port they set sail.
Medical teams say a number suffering from dehydration have been hospitalised after several days at sea.